Alert Solutions Blog

Old VS. New: Why K-12 Teachers Should Embrace EdTech

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, May 23, 2019 @ 10:05 AM

As technology continues to evolve and develop, it’s steadily taking over the K-12 education space. Although new edtech is designed to help and assist teachers with tasks in and out of the classroom, some teachers are still on the fence.  Why is there so much resistance among teachers when it comes to new educational technology, or edtech?

EdTech - Education Technology

The Ed Advocate says there are many anti-tech teachers due to the power of tradition. A teacher-centered approach in which K-12 teachers are sharing their wisdom with their students and classrooms, engaging the class, and motivating them to be the best they can is the more traditional way to teach.  Now education is changing to more of a student-centered approach instead. The Ed Advocate explains, “In the student-centered approach to education, the teacher serves as a guide who facilitates the learning process, instead of seeking to control it.” Teachers can utilize edtech to help facilitate the student-centered approach to teaching.

Another key reason teachers haven’t completely embraced edtech is because of the lack of training on the different technologies that could help them. Older generations of teachers simply did not have access to the newer edtech that is out there, and even the younger generations are not fully trained on how edtech can help them in the classroom.

Edtech …Out With the Old, In With the New

  • Traditional Attendance Calls vs. Automated Attendance Alerts
    Chronic absenteeism and truancy are plaguing K-12 schools and districts across the country. Each day school administrators are calling parents to report their children are absent, taking up valuable time that could easily be used on other administrative tasks. Introducing Automated Attendance Alert edtech! With automated attendance alerts educators don’t have to worry about calling home as the alert is sent automatically to parents or guardians using their preferred communication method through a school notification platform. This is more efficient than manually calling parents, allows for accurate attendance reporting, and saves staff hours of time.

  • Parent-Teacher Meetings vs. Video Conferences & Calls
    Nowadays there are a high number of working parents who may not be able to attend parent-teacher meetings due to busy schedules, travels, and meetings. By using digital tools such as Skype or Google Hangout teachers can set up video conferences to ensure good parental involvement and parent engagement without parents without having to rearrange their work schedule.

  • Sending Home Paper Information vs. Digitally Sending Information
    Sending students home with field trip approval slips and announcements is not always the most efficient way to get information into the hands of a parent or guardian. Edtech school notification platforms are a great way to communicate important information with parents and ensure they receive it. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, allows teachers to communicate more effectively with parents and improve parent engagement and response. With secure document delivery, teachers can also automatically email report cards, progress reports, transcripts, and more to student families. This again ensures delivery with real-time reporting, reduces risk of message interception by students, and also reduces paper, ink, and mailing costs.

  • Snow Days vs. Digital Learning Days
    For those living in areas in the U.S. with harsh winters, snow days can take a toll on learning opportunities for students. Even though students may not complain about multiple snow days, edtech is making it possible for some K-12 schools and districts to host ‘digital learning days’ in replacement of the traditional snow day. Anderson School District 5 in South Carolina was selected to be a part of an eLearning pilot program. This program allows students to access their assignments at home via Google Classroom with Chromebook devices. “At the end of the day, it makes common sense and financial sense to implement this program,” Superintendent Tom Wilson said in a news release. “No longer will we need to run buses mid-June for a makeup day that only a quarter of our students attend.”

  • Reporting Bullying Incidents In-Person vs. Anonymous Tip Lines
    Bullying is a problem every K-12 school wants to eliminate in all classrooms. It’s difficult for teachers to intervene with every single bullying incident that occurs inside and outside their classrooms, and with the growth of cyberbullying it becomes more and more problematic. Utilizing an edtech solution like an anonymous bullying tip line can help! Our Speak Up! Anti-Bullying Management platform was designed for schools to help them dramatically reduce school bullying and cyberbullying incidents by allowing students to make reports anonymously.

As technology continues to evolve, Alert Solutions does too. By implementing edtech in your classroom, you could save valuable time, increase parent engagement, and reduce bullying incidents, all while promoting your student-centered teaching approach. There is a lot more educational technology out there. So, teachers… it’s time to embrace edtech!

If you’re interested in any of the edtech tools Alert Solutions has to offer we’d be happy to assist. Please contact us today!

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Topics: bullying, cyberbullying, attendance, school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, parent engagement, parent communication, technology trends

The Importance of Teacher-Student Relationships in K-12 Schools

Posted by Philip Young on Mon, May 06, 2019 @ 10:05 AM

Positive Teacher Student RelationshipTeachers who make an effort to foster positive and influential relationships with students make a huge impact on children going through school. Not only are they making students comfortable in their learning environment, studies show supportive teacher-student relationships lead to higher levels of achievement than those students with conflict in their relationships.

If you think back to when you were a student yourself, did you make an effort academically when you loved your teacher? Teachers who treat their students how they want to be treated become ‘popular’ to students, which leads to mutual respect. Keeping the line between student and teacher, but also showing students you’re making a concerted effort, will gain their trust and friendship.

5 Tips to Better Your Teacher-Student Relationship

  1. Get to Know Your Students
    The first thing a teacher should do when building a positive teacher-student relationship is getting to know his or her students. Find out their interests, whether it is a favorite sport, TV show, or school activity. NEA recommends talking to students and listening to what's on their mind: “…they will begin to see that you're not just another adult, but someone who is genuinely interested in them.” It is suggested that you do not have any ‘favorites’, but making an extra effort to build a better teacher-student relationship with children who may be a disciplinary problem doesn’t hurt. This can be done by giving compliments such as, “You did a nice job in class today by raising your hand instead of blurting out when you had ideas to share. Your cooperation in class made it easier for me to teach today. Thanks.”

  2. Protect Your Student’s Self-Esteem
    Adolescents and young adults are fairly vulnerable when in school. Their priority is their social standing and relationships with their peers, which tends to cause students to pull away from adults. For this reason, it’s important to protect your teacher-student relationship by managing discipline in your classroom without an audience. NEA tells us, “Being criticized by a teacher in front of their peers humiliates them. To avoid “losing face”, students may react by talking back, smirking, or walking out of class. They will do whatever it takes to preserve their dignity.” Although it is easier said than done, reacting to student outbursts should be quiet and quick with no sarcasm or condescending comments. If you can react to a problem in a light manner or even with a joke, this can prevent any jabs to a student’s self-esteem and protect your teacher-student relationship.

  3. Appreciate Good Student Habits
    Unfortunately teachers find a lot of their interaction with students at a classroom level is due to disruption. When students are listening well or working quietly, make sure you appreciate that. Addressing the class with compliments is a great way to build teacher-student relationships. NEA provides these examples of positive statements towards a classroom:
    • "It's really great to see all of you start your homework without having to be told.”
    • “I appreciate that you are all working so quietly.”
    • “The bell just rang. I see that everyone is in the right seat. That's great.”
    • “It’s easy to carry on a discussion when people raise their hand and don't interrupt others. I appreciate that.”
    • “You're a great class; I enjoy being your teacher.” 

  4. Listen to Your Students
    Being open to receiving feedback from your students is a good quality to have as a teacher, as students like to feel as though they have some influence in what goes on in class. It can also lead to a respectful teacher-student relationship. Topics that could be up for discussion with students include school policies, assignments, and grades. Taking the time to listen to your students’ concerns and ideas shows them that you care and value their thoughts.

  5. Work on Your Teacher-Parent Relationship
    Having a good teacher-student relationship is great, but having parents and guardians on board as well is extremely helpful in fostering student success. Engaging parents in their child’s education often encourages better grades, higher test scores, reduced rates of substance abuse and better social skills. One way to do this is having open lines of communication with parents, which can be done easily with the help of your school notification system.

With these 5 helpful tips, you’re well on your way to creating incredible teacher-student relationships.

Alert Solution’s proudly works with many incredible K-12 teachers across the country and internationally. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, helps foster positive teacher-parent relationships, as well as teacher-student relationships.  

Interested in learning more? Download our brochure today!

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication, student engagement

A Round Up of Our Favorite K-12 School Cancellation Announcements

Posted by Tara Gibson on Tue, Apr 30, 2019 @ 09:04 AM

There is nothing like waking up on a cold snowy morning to the news that school is closed for the day. You get to sleep in, play with friends, and not worry about the dreaded pop quizzes and homework assignments that were due. Students look forward to these days every winter!

Cancelling school is always a tricky decision, as school administrators don’t want students to miss out on precious learning time. It can also be a burden for working parents who need to find last-minute child care or have to stay home from work. Some students also rely on school for regular meals. With that being said, student and faculty safety must always come first. You don’t want to risk the lives of the community by not closing the school’s doors for a day or two.

Students and parents may receive a phone call, a text, or maybe something a little different. Superintendents, principals, and teachers are getting more and more creative with their announcements to the school community. As the weather warms up, we want to take a look back at some of the hilarious school cancellation videos from across the country.

Our Favorite School Cancellation Videos

  1. Swartz Creek Community Schools – Michigan

    This hysterical superintendent and high school principal duo, Ben Mainka and Jim Kitchen, announced their school cancellation to the tune of “Hallelujah”. With thousands of views, their entertaining video quickly went viral. We must add… they have great voices! Alert Solutions is looking forward to another school cancellation song from them next winter.

  2. Pontotoc County School District - Mississippi

    This high school principal, Jim Matthews, posted this incredible twist on 50 Cent’s hit “In Da Club” and graced the Pontotoc community with “It’s a Snow Day”. Ending the school cancellation with a peace sign, this amazing video got hundreds of thousands of views.

  3. Durham Academy – North Carolina

    An oldie, but a goodie! This head of school and assistant head of school, Michael Ulku-Steiner and Lee Hark, announced there would be no school for Durham Academy due to “ice ice baby”! A clever school announcement that has over 5 million views on YouTube.

  4. Moses Brown School – Rhode Island

    Alert Solutions is proud to be in the same state as this ingenious head teacher at Moses Brown School. His twist on the popular Frozen song “Let it Go” was switched to “School is Closed”. This school cancellation was put together creatively to announce a snow day a few years ago, but is still on our radar as it is so clever!

Although snow storms and severe weather events can surprise K-12 schools and districts across the United States, your school can always prepare a funny announcement in advance and surprise your community when the time comes.

The Alert Solutions school notification platform, SwiftK12, allows school administrators to easily send out texts, calls, and emails in the case of a snow day. The SwiftK12 email notification has the ability to embed videos, which could be a great way to share a clever snow day song. With a great social media integration, teachers can also share funny school cancellations on Facebook and Twitter.

We challenge you to create your own funny school closure announcement and share it with us! Want to learn more about our school notification system? Download our brochure today.

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Topics: school notifications, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication

Digital Tools to Improve Parental Involvement in K-12 Schools

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Mar 21, 2019 @ 13:03 PM

With the digital world continuing to expand year over year, educators are beginning to leverage several technologies to help increase parental involvement in K-12 schools. However, some are skeptical of these digital tools and the effectiveness they have in creating meaningful relationships between teachers and parents. With this being said, the typical in-person parent-teacher meetings are not as common since the evolution of digital technology.

Mom and Daughter on Phone - Parental Involvement

According to a 2016 report, “there’s been a steep drop in the number of parents who believe that more intimate forms of communication—face-to-face meetings with teachers, for example—are the most effective means to convey important information about students.” This study also tells us there is a growing acceptance of digital methods among both teachers and parents.

Parental involvement is a trending topic in the education field.  Studies show students with engaged parents are more likely to attend school, graduate on time, do better academically, and are less likely to drop out. Students are also less likely to get in trouble and have substance abuse problems.

Keeping parents in the loop of day-to-day activities is not always easy, but with the help of digital tools like social media, video calling, and automated notifications, teachers are saving time and keeping parents happy.

3 Digital Tools to Improve Parental Involvement

  1. Social Media
    Social media is a great way to stay connected with parents and promote parental involvement. Working parents may not be able to make it to parent engagement nights, but following classroom social media accounts such as Facebook pages or Twitter streams will keep them in the know. EdTech shares through using social media “they (parents) can stay more informed and offer more help and expertise during a time that’s more convenient for them.”

  2. Video Conferences & Calls
    If you can’t meet a parent in person, try video calling from the comfort of their home! Like mentioned previously, many parents are working and traveling which makes it difficult to meet with their child’s teachers. Video conferencing software such as Skype, Google Hangout, and FaceTime allow for great parental involvement digitally.

  3. Text Messaging & Automated Alerts
    Automated alerts and text message alerts are an easy way to boost parental involvement. This is becoming a preferred communication method for both teachers and parents alike. According to EdTech, “A lot of young parents become intimidated by formal conferences or can’t get time off work to attend. Many teachers have found that the ability to text parents has made communicating with them much easier.” A study was conducted in 2017 by Columbia University and parents were sent texts weekly about their children’s grades, absences, and missed assignments. This resulted in an “18 percent increase in student attendance and a 39 percent reduction in course failures.” The numbers speak for themselves!

Alert Solutions’ industry leading school notification platform, SwiftK12, allows teachers and administrators to send text messages home to parents with ease. SwiftK12’s automated attendance alerts also serve as a great tool to help save staff time and ultimately increase attendance rates.

Pearson Education explains that improving communication and parental involvement using digital tools won’t happen overnight. They recommend a few tips to help with nurturing parent engagement outlined below:

  • Involve Parents in Coursework
    Find ways to get parents involved in homework and other school projects. This can be done by sending helpful reminders home through their preferred communication methods.

  • Teach Parents About Digital Learning
    With the many skeptics out there, it’s important to talk with parents about your school’s approach to digital personalized learning. Pearson recommends sharing “how are students benefiting, how much time per day are they spending on screens, how does digital allow students to work at their own pace and meet competencies, what will homework look like and overall WHY digital.”

  • Remember: Not All Parents are Fluent English Speakers
    Break down those communication barriers! There are tools for parents and teachers make it easier to grow and sustain parental involvement and engagement across a language barrier. SwiftK12 is a helpful tool as it translates messages with ease.

  • Set Expectations
    Make sure parents know what to expect! Parents who have multiple children enrolled in one school may be overwhelmed if each teacher has a different way to communicate with them. Pearson provides the following example; “Imagine having 2 children each with 6 different teachers who have 6 different ways to access information. This can create deep frustration that is hard to overcome.”

At Alert Solutions, we understand the importance of parental involvement and keeping parents engaged - it has so many benefits for students. We’ve kept up with new technology trends with our school notification platform, SwiftK12. Reaching parents is easy to do with our quick alerts and automated lunch and attendance alerts. 

Ready to learn more? Download our brochure today!

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Topics: school announcement, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education, parent engagement, parent communication

National Nutrition Month: 5 Ways Your Class Can Celebrate

Posted by Tara Gibson on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 @ 09:03 AM

March is National Nutrition Month! The Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics created this yearly campaign to encourage people to focus their attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. With students spending the majority of their time in schools, what better place to teach and promote healthy eating and exercise? Educating children of the significance of a proper diet is very important, as a child’s nutrition and lifestyle habits have a direct effect on every function of their body.  

Students on Field Trip - National Nutrition Month

Teaching kids the skills they need to make these proper food choices will help them develop lifelong healthy eating patterns. NCBI tells us “Healthy eating habits among adolescents and children are essential for healthy growth, cognitive development and other aspects of health and wellbeing.” These good habits have also been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

The School Nutrition Association shares the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 “required the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update federal nutrition standards for school meals”. These updated rules went into effect in July 2012 and require K-12 schools to offer students larger portions of fruits and veggies with every lunch, grains offered with meals must be whole-grain rich, meals must meet age-appropriate calorie minimums and maximums, sodium levels must meet certain limits, and meals cannot contain added trans-fat. Full guidelines can be found here.

Although the guidelines may seem to be rather strict, this doesn’t mean schools aren’t feeding their students delicious meals. Popular menu items such as pizza and macaroni are still served, but have had slight makeovers. For example, school pizza is now required to be prepared with whole grain crust, low-fat cheese, and reduced sodium sauce.

5 Ways K-12 Schools Can Celebrate National Nutrition Month

There are fun ways to teach your students about nutrition in the classroom. Have a good time and celebrate National Nutrition Month with these 5 ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  1. Take a Field Trip
    A field trip to a local farmers market or farm is a great way to get out of the classroom and celebrate National Nutrition Month. Introduce your students to healthy organic foods such as fruits and veggies grown locally! TeachHub also suggests a supermarket scavenger hunt as another field trip idea. “As you walk through the supermarket aisles, ask students to point out healthy foods that belong to each group on the food plate. Then, for a fun activity, divide students into groups and hand each group a list of healthy foods to search for.”

  2. Food Group Project
    For National Nutrition Month consider a group project in which you assign teams of students to different food groups. Have your students research their food groups in depth and present the nutrition facts to the class. This way they’re learning about their own food group, and also learning from their peers about the several other food groups.

  3. Taste Test
    What better way to get students to try new foods than a taste test! Cut up several different fruits and veggies into bite-size pieces and have your class try one of each. Be sure to check that there are no allergies in your class. After the taste test have the children participate in an open discussion amongst each other and then vote on their favorites with an explanation as to why!

  4. Food Product Boxes
    Another idea for National Nutrition Month is to have your classroom save empty boxes of food and bring them into class. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the class should “Spend some time reading labels and comparing information in the Nutrition Facts panels. Expand into a menu-planning opportunity, individually or in teams.”

  5. Tip of the Day
    Get parents involved! Consider sending home nutrition tips or trivia questions through your school notification platform and encourage parents to keep the nutrition discussion going outside of the classroom. You could even try sending home healthy recipes to try out. Getting parents and guardians involved will help solidify these healthy eating habits, which will only result in good outcomes as a child grows. For an extra incentive we suggest giving out prizes to the students and parents who participate!

At Alert Solutions we want all K-12 schools and districts to understand the importance of teaching children about nutrition and healthy eating habits, and why it is essential for healthy growth and cognitive development. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, is a great way to communicate with parents outside of the classroom to keep the nutrition conversation going. 

Interested in learning more? Download our brochure today!

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Topics: student health, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement

Parent Engagement Nights: Ideas to Boost Parental Involvement

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Mar 05, 2019 @ 10:03 AM

Parental involvement in education is a highly discussed topic that’s gaining traction among K-12 educators. Encouraging parents to be engaged with their child’s school work is not only seen as an important rule of thumb, but it has many benefits for students.

Parental Involvement in Classroom

Studies tell us good parental involvement leads students to attend school more regularly, earn better grades, and have higher test scores. Children also have been shown to have lower rates of substance abuse and delinquent acts. The positive results speak for themselves; the tricky part is convincing parents to get involved.

Planning Your Parental Involvement 

It takes more than just parents and teachers to get parent engagement activities in the works. Kelly Bielefeld plans out her parent engagement nights to be informative sessions for parents to learn things that will ultimately help them support their child. This is what she does when planning:

  • Recruit a Team:
    Gathering a group of people to help with putting together a fun and inclusive parent engagement activity is essential. You want to make sure you’re hosting an event that parents want to attend, which is easier to do with a group of helpers on your side.

  • Pick Your Focus:
    There are a lot of fun ideas and informative areas your team can focus a parental involvement activity on, but choosing one can be difficult as there are many places to start. Should the focus be about curriculum, social issues, technology, student work, or the school’s mission? Reach out to parents and see what resonates with them and go from there. Bielefeld suggests rotating the areas of focus so that all parents are engaged.

  • Base Your Focus on Data
    Once you have decided on your broad idea you should try to narrow it down to a specific focus. This should be decided after you’ve looked at the data. Bielefeld explains the following, “The first piece of data to consider would be achievement data. If the plan is to have a “math night,” there should be data to support the need for a focus in this area. The other data that is important is parent feedback, often in the form of a survey.”

  • How to Engage
    Your topic has been chosen. Now you need to decide how exactly you’ll engage parents and get them involved. Consider open discussions, encourage movement and reflection on topics, and have people speak and share ideas on the chosen topic. A lecture simply will not cut it! Make the activity fun and engaging for a successful parental involvement night!

  • Plan, Plan, & Plan Some More!
    Parents are busy, so planning out your parental involvement activity in advance is key. Make sure you share your plans with parents early so they are more likely to attend!

4 Fun Ideas to Boost Parental Involvement

K-12 schools have devised a variety of different parent engagement and family themed nights to get parents through school doors. Below are 4 fun examples from creative schools:

  1. Family Yoga Night
    A school in Virginia has yoga as a part of their curriculum and often encourages students to bring their parents to join them. Attendees bring their own mats or towels to class and enjoy teacher-led stretching and poses. “It’s a great way for kids of all ages and their parents to spend time together in a positive way,” says PTA president Susan Estes.

  2. Wildlife Night
    A Florida elementary school partnered with a nearby local wildlife sanctuary. They brought animals such as snakes, skunks, and even an alligator into school for a live presentation. The students were learning about different habitats, so it fit in well with the curriculum. Plus, is there anything more fun for young kids than seeing animals up close? Parents were invited to join this fun-filled evening.

  3. Rockin’ Through the Decades
    This fun dance party took place at Vine Hill Elementary School in California. Parents and students showed up for an exciting evening and danced away in costumes from their favorite decades to music starting from the 1950s through to the present day. PTO Today suggests asking students and parents to submit song requests in advance to make sure all the favorites are covered!

  4. Annual Cook-Off Event
    A little competition never hurt anybody! A New Hampshire PTA holds an annual Chili Cook-Off competition where students’ parents prepare their favorite chili recipes. The winner takes home a special trophy and keeps it until the following year and then the trophy is passed to the next winner. PTO Today recommends tying this event in with a football game or pep rally theme.

When it comes to planning a fun night and promoting parental involvement, the possibilities are endless! PTO Today has more great ideas if you’re feeling stuck – click here!

At Alert Solutions we understand the importance of parent engagement and keeping parents involved. Communicating with parents throughout the week is a great way to keep them informed of what’s happening at your school. Hosting entertaining parent engagement nights will improve your school’s rapport with parents… and it’s fun!

Check out our Parent Engagement Best Practice Guide for additional tips, tricks, and strategies to kick-start your parental involvement.

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, parent communication, student engagement

5 Ways to Promote Student Motivation During the Dark Days of Winter

Posted by Nina Caliri on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 @ 10:02 AM

Some call these long cold days the ‘February Funk’, others refer to them as the ‘Dark Days’ of winter, but we can all agree that the lack of sunlight and warmth definitely puts a damper on your daily motivation. It may make you feel better to know that this feeling is actually a common phenomenon that affects a large population yearly. Commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD (Yes… SAD!), many experience irritability and low energy around this time of the year. 

School Bus

Teachers may begin to notice their students and colleagues are down, and have less of a spring in their steps because of these cold dark days. As an educator, this can make teaching during this lull extremely difficult if your students are lacking any and all motivation. 

Although promoting student motivation is the topic of this blog post, teachers aren’t excluded from these winter blues. As an educator, make sure you’re doing what you can to take care of yourself, and in turn you’ll be taking care of your students.

If you’re not excited to promote student motivation, your students won’t be either. Mother Nature Network shares some ideas to help adults battle seasonal depression, including: taking advantage of daylight, being active, eating healthier foods, and avoiding germs. Teachers are often exposed to a lot of germs in schools, so taking extra precautions during the cold winter months is very important. 

Let’s get back to the excitement of the beginning of the school year with some fun ideas to promote student motivation. We’ve compiled ideas from several K-12 schools that have experienced the dark days themselves, and have made it out happy and ready to seize the day.

5 Ideas to Promote Student Motivation

  1. Switch It Up
    An easy way to engage your students and keep them motivated is to simply switch things up, and allow the unexpected to become the expected! TeachHub tells us that patterns and routines are important and helpful when it comes to student learning. However, “when students begin heavily anticipating what they’ll be doing, part of them goes on “autopilot” and less effort is required from them.” Keep your students on their toes by doing simple changes around the classroom. Reorganize the desks in a new formation and adjust the decorations on the walls to give students the change they need to spark some motivation.

  2. Keep Your Students Moving
    Avoid seeing your students slouching low and being confined at their desks by getting them up and moving throughout the day. Playing games or even group projects that require your students to get up and move around will help motivate the body and mind. Physical movement not only increases student energy, but it also improves performance and mental acuity.

  3. Get Competitive
    There is nothing wrong with a little competition! TeachHub suggests taking ordinary lessons and giving them a gameshow like spin. This will make the lesson both fun and interactive, which will likely engage your students and boost student motivation. “Students love to compete against one another and themselves. If we can harness this motivation to “win” with the objective to “learn,” there are all kinds of possibilities for achievement.”

  4. Let Students Own the Day
    Teachers are the experts on what students should be taught, and what students should know. Try allowing your students to take control of the day, and set the classroom agenda. TeachHub proposes students should be able to “decide on a classroom party or reward day, select the next topic to learn from a provided list, or even bring in their own ideas, possessions, or videos related to the class topic.” This gives the students some control on what they’re learning, which will also promote student motivation and potentially contribute to increased student attendance.

  5. Praise & Positive Reinforcement
    Praising student success is a great way to improve student motivation. Everybody loves being recognized for a job well done, and positive reinforcement is one way to do this. Celebrating even the ‘small’ wins will motivate your students to continue to work toward more classroom successes. You want your students to feel so great in their work that they’ll strive to do better on the next task. Alert Solutions suggests teachers should share praise in messages home to parents. School notification systems like SwiftK12 don’t always need to be used for school safety and emergencies. Simply sending home positive remarks on student work and achievements is a great way to praise your student, but also connect with the parents and keep them engaged as well.

At Alert Solutions, we want all K-12 schools and districts to succeed in motivating today’s students. Share these ideas and remind parents of their child’s hard work with the help of your school notification system.  It’s time to say goodbye to the February Funk with these student motivation tips! Try incorporating these ideas in your classroom to help boost morale and encourage students to enjoy learning during the long, dark winter days.

For more information on SwiftK12, contact us today!

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, student engagement

5 Creative Ways to Improve Student Attendance in K-12 Schools

Posted by Tara Gibson on Thu, Feb 07, 2019 @ 10:02 AM

An unfortunate but commonly discussed topic in education is the increase of chronic truancy in K-12 school districts across the country. Legally, a chronic truant is defined as “a child of compulsory school age who is absent from public school without legitimate excuse for absence.”

According to the US Department of Education, over six million students missed 15 or more days of school in a recent school year. That’s 14% of the population, or one in seven students not showing up to classes.

Teacher Taking Student Attendance

It is common sense to know when students are not in school, they are not learning. There have been many studies that show us that student attendance directly correlates with student achievement. The more students are in school, the better they perform academically.

Sadly, students skip school for various reasons. Evidence Based Teaching lists a few causes: students are anxious when at school, have social issues, are not performing well academically, lack the drive to do well in school, or parental involvement is low. Other factors could also include socio-economic status, school climate and staff morale. Evidence Based Teaching states “chronically absent students view their relationships with their teachers (or lack thereof) as the most important factor of all.”

As a teacher, there are things you can do to improve attendance and encourage your students to come to school.

5 Tips to Improve Student Attendance in Your Classroom

  1. Show Students They Are Important
    Many teachers are passionate about their roles in teaching, which makes it easy to connect with students on a deeper level. It’s been shown that when students know you care about them, they are more likely to come to school. Be the teacher that stands out, shows an interest in students’ lives and extracurriculars, and engages with students outside of the classroom.

  2. Work to Build a Positive School Culture
    A positive school culture and engaged teachers go hand-in-hand. According to eSchoolNews, “when schools have a positive culture, students become more invested in their learning and excited about attending school. When schools don’t, students disengage and are less likely to have healthy attendance.” Schools are also beginning to take positive approaches to resolving truancy issues, instead of punishments and suspensions.

  3. Encourage Extracurricular Programs & Participation
    Extracurriculars are a great way to get students to enjoy being at school. Joining a sports team or after school club not only helps with social interaction, but it also boosts student attendance rates. Extracurricular activities run by teachers also strengthen bonds between themselves and the students. It’s been proven that schools with higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities have significantly raised student attendance rates.

  4. Student Incentives
    Student incentive programs could be a good way to improve attendance rates. Many assume incentives will be costly for K-12 schools and districts, but that is not the case. For example, “successful incentives can include extra recess time or homework passes. Class-wide incentives that encourage friendly competition between classes also tend to be powerful, as students can encourage their peers to attend school so that the entire group can benefit from the competition.” Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition!

  5. Get Parents Involved
    It’s no question that parental involvement in education is extremely important when it comes to student success. A study by Hanover Research states “improving student attendance may include communicating with families about student attendance, providing families with contact information at school, conducting attendance workshops, and offering after-school programs. Direct methods such as parent phone calls and regular attendance updates have also been associated with improved attendance rates.”

Improving student attendance is always on the mind of educators and teachers. Getting a good education is key to student success, and being in school is one way to do so.

Alert Solutions works closely with K-12 schools and districts to help increase attendance rates with SwiftK12’s Automated Attendance Alerts. Not only do they save hours of time for school staff, but it’s been proven that they’re a more efficient than manually contacting parents when students are absent. SwiftK12 helps monitor attendance and keeps school administrators, teachers, and parents informed of attendance concerns -  ultimately reducing absenteeism.

Reduce chronic truancy today. Check out our helpful strategy guide for tips & tricks!

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Topics: attendance, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, truancy

6 Ways to Incorporate Social Media in the Classroom

Posted by Philip Young on Tue, Feb 05, 2019 @ 10:02 AM

Students today don’t go very far without their smartphones. They’ve become an extra limb to many, a viable source for information, and a way to stay connected with peers through messaging, texting, and of course, social media.

Social Media

According to surveys, nearly 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone, or access to use one. 45% of teens also say they are online at a near-constant basis.  

These high percentages are proof it’s time to jump on board and embrace social media in the classroom. McGraw Hill brings up this great point, “the academic conversation has shifted from "How can we prevent social media from being a distraction?" to "How can we best make use of social technology in practical, sustainable, and secure ways?".

Social media fun is not just for students, but social media channels also have great tools to provide insights and knowledge on various topics, which is helpful for studying purposes. Teachers may not know how to start incorporating social media into their classroom for learning, which is why we want to bring some ideas and examples to the table.

6 Ways to Bring Social Media into Your Classroom 

  1. Show off Your Classroom
    A great way to engage with student’s families is to show off your classrooms on social media websites. Live tweet success stories in the classroom and create your own hashtag. This keeps parents in the loop, and allows students to look back on what you’ve done throughout the school year. Parent engagement is a growing phenomenon, and many teachers are looking for creative ways to keep parents involved in their child’s education – social media is one way to do this.

  2. Make Social Media the Homework
    Let’s be real, students do not look forward to homework. Try incorporating social media to make homework fun! For example; The Ed Advocate suggests having students tweet or post about assigned readings. Students can summarize what they’ve read, or respond to a quick question about the reading assignment over social media. Twitter is a great source for current news and trending topics. Have your students bring research they’ve found on a specific topic, and share their findings in class the next day.

  3. Connect with Other Classrooms
    Encourage your teaching peers to jump onto the social media train as well! Creating social media pages for your classrooms is a great way to reinforce the bond between the students in your class. It also promotes a healthy competitive spirit when you connect with other classrooms in the school. Collaborate with other classes through social media, and may the best classroom win!

  4. Start a YouTube Channel
    YouTube may be one of the most popular social media channels for teens.. Don’t know how to do something? There’s most likely a YouTube how-to video out there. Teachers can post their own educational videos, or use the platform to showcase informative videos for the class. Creating a YouTube video could be a great project idea for your students, and we’re sure it would be entertaining for students to watch their peers acting on video.

  5. Embrace Blogging
    A classroom blog is a great way to share assignments, inspire student discussions, and keep parents involved. According to the Ed Advocate, setting up a blog is not only simple, but secure. Invite your students and their families to the blog and only they can see the content. Try assigning writing projects on the classroom blog so students can review their peer’s work, leave comments, and have discussions on the various blog topics. Students are then able to receive feedback in a manner that teachers can filter and control.

  6. Create “Fake” Personas
    This last tip may sound strange, but is a great way to bring social media into the classroom. Creating ‘fake’ social media profiles as historic figures or characters in a book makes learning about these topics and stories fun. Students can tweet or post about major events in this character’s life in the voice of this person. The Ed Advocate states “some teachers have discovered that students love the idea of creating fake profiles for the people they are studying in class.”

Social media is evolving daily, and K-12 students are being brought along for the ride. Instead of banning smartphones and working out of educational books, encourage the use of technology and social media in the classroom for learning purposes.

Did You Know? Our SwiftK12 school notification platform enables users to post school alerts directly to Facebook and Twitter social media pages. Keeping these pages up-to-date with the latest school news, unexpected closures, and emergency alerts, provides your school community with a reliable source of information.

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Topics: school announcement, mobile learning, power announcement, powerschool, education, social media education, parent engagement

Let's Chat: Improve Parental Involvement With These 4 Communication Tips

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 @ 11:01 AM

Whether it’s eating better, exercising more, or any other resolution, most people have that ‘fresh start’ mentality when a new year approaches.

Parent Teacher Meeting - Parental Involvement

As an educator, you want the best for all of your students. In 2019, consider applying a new approach to improved parental involvement in education.

Dinner Table MBA reminds us that education is more than what happens inside the four walls of a classroom. Unfortunately, “more than 80 percent of new teachers feel that parental support and involvement is the most challenging area they face; parents are either unwilling or don’t have the time to participate in their child’s education.” 

Encouraging communication and parental involvement has incredible benefits for a student; the tricky part is getting all parents on board.

Why is Parental Involvement Important in K-12 Education?

  • Students Perform Better in School
    According to PTO Today, students have been shown to earn better grades and higher test scores, attend school more regularly, and pass their classes.

  • Students Show Improved Behavior & Positive Attitudes
    Studies show “children with involved parents have enhanced skills for regulating emotions and feel negative emotions less often”. For example, children with involved parents have lower rates of substance use and delinquent acts compared to kids whose parents are uninvolved. Keeping parents engaged not only helps within the classroom, but also outside of the classroom in day-to-day living.

  • Students Have Enhanced Social Skills
    Parental involvement has been shown to encourage students to interact with other students. Improved social skills in children leads to better academic outcomes.

It’s clear there are many benefits to parental involvement. It’s time to implement communication skills at your K-12 school to keep the conversation between teachers and parents going.  

Four Communication Tips to Improve Parental Involvement

  1. Set Your Expectations
    When communicating with parents initially, you want to make sure they know what you expect from your classroom. Making this clear from the get-go will prevent miscommunication. “Research has shown that parental expectations are one of the strongest predictors of student achievement. Your parent-teacher communication plan should be designed to set clear, consistent and high expectations for student performance in class.”

  2. Identify Parent Preferred Communication Methods
    Not everybody checks their email daily, or wants to receive weekly phone calls home from teachers. Letting parents choose their preferred communication method increases the chance of them responding and staying up-to-date on important information. Implementing a school notification system like SwiftK12 allows parents to choose their preferred communication method, which drastically improves message delivery.

  3. Share Communication About the Entire Classroom
    Consider weekly communication at the classroom level. This will let parents know that you as a teacher are responsible for more than just their child. TeachHub states, “Setting this context will help parents see your point of view when and/if you need to make a decision that is best for the group, but which might not be ideal for each individual student.”

  4. Measure Parental Involvement Success
    It’s important to keep track of whether parents are staying engaged, or if a change should happen to ensure that they do. Keep the following questions in mind: Are your school communications getting parents involved? Do parents show up to parent-teacher events and meetings? If the answers are no, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Here are some fun tips from one of our past blog posts on improving parental involvement:
    • Bring Your Parents to School Day
    • Celebrate Cultures Day
    • Create Family-Oriented Video Competitions
    • Present Annual Awards

It’s never too late to get started! Alert Solutions works with many K-12 schools and districts on their parental involvement strategies to improve overall engagement.

For more tips, tricks, and strategies, check out our best practice guide today!

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, parent engagement, parent communication, student engagement

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